Improving Quality


Improving quality is a lot like taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Although the results may not be immediate, long-term benefits are significant. Quality is neither a quick fix nor the program of the month, but rather a way of life for companies who are serious about improvements.

Quality is a fundamental to creating value, yet it is a moving target and must meet the customers’ current definition of quality. Thus, we offer the following recommendations for improving service quality and ultimately delivering superior customer value:

  • Design services in cooperation with customers. Learn what customers truly value by incorporating the voice of the customer earlier in the service development process. Also, it is important to determine not only the customers’ preferred service attributes but their relative importance, as well.
  • Focus your improvement programs outward, on market break points. Only by defining those episodes, when the customer comes in contact with the organization, and by focusing on the ones most critical can you see things as the customer sees them. Also, visualize the complete sequence of the moments of truth a customer experiences in having some need met. Remember, the customer sees service in terms of a total experience, not an isolated set of activities. Mapping the service cycle helps companies see these activities as the customer sees them.
  • Create a triangle representation of service quality. Hotels and restaurants often advertise and display on their properties ratings by one of the major motor clubs, such as AAA or Mobil Oil, Hertz #1 Gold Club service communicates a premium, value-added bundle of services to business travelers seeking a hassle-free car rental experience.
  • Use teamwork to promote service excellence—service workers who support one another and achieve together can avoid service burnout.
  • Create a service bias based on each of the following service quality determinants: professionalism, attitudes and behaviors, accessibility and flexibility, reliability and trustworthiness, service recovery, and reputation and credibility. These criteria can be used as guidelines for influencing positive service quality perceptions.
  • Develop proper measurements. Use metrics that are specific on nature, such as 95% on-time-delivery, customer wait time, or order processing time. Benchmark the best practices for each service are being measured, such as wait time or order delivery.
  • Employee selection, job design, and training are absolutely crucial to building customer satisfaction and service quality. Structure the job of service workers to maximize their ability to respond quickly and competently to customer needs. Also, train service personnel in areas of service delivery and attitude. Role play different service scenarios, showing various service recovery strategies. Provide service workers with some basic tools to help control service quality variation and uncover service problems.
  • Reward total quality efforts in marketing. Look for opportunities to reinforce quality behaviors when they occur. Employees should be rewarded ob the basis of these behaviors (commitment, effort) rather than strictly on outcomes, such as sales quotas. Rewarding a salesperson for meeting or exceeding quota with a bonus while giving a nominal award such as a pin or plaque to the person who fixes the product or process sends a clear message about the importance of quality.
  • Think of service as a process, not a series of functions. Service quality occurs when the entire service experience is managed and the organization is aligned to respond accordingly.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Markets as Networks


Actual firm relationships must be seen on a spectrum between outright competition at one end and collusion at the other. At the very least, such a self-evident observation raises the issue of the firm (or business unit) as the basic, and often only, unit of analysis: in certain circumstances we might more appropriately consider an information coalition of such firms as the key unit.

Earlier, the border of the company was seen as the dividing line between co-operation and conflict – cooperation within the company and conflict in relation to all external units. The corresponding means for coordination are heirarchy and the market mechanism. The existence of relationships makes this picture more diffuse. There are great opportunities for cooperation with a lot of external units forming, for example, coalitions. Thus, it is often more fruitful to see the company as a part of a network instead of a free and independent actor in an atomistic martket.

However, the recognition that there is a network of relationships is merely the first step. Approaches need to be developed for the analysis of the network.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Firm Value and National Wealth


The wealth creation process of a nation cannot be seen separately from that taking place at the industry level. Hence, unless a nation is able to unleash the value creating potential of each organization, its over-all progress in this context will be significantly hampered. Incidentally for each firm to maximize its wealth creation potential, the need for private ownership of capital and well defined property rights in all sectors of an economy cannot be over-emphasized. Private sector business organizations will ensure that their managers are held accountable for the way they use the company assets, and the outcome thereof. When the firm level ownership is diffused (as in the cases of public or joint sector companies) and the majority ownership is predominantly with distant and impersonal state, there is no incentive for intra and inter-organizational cooperation for mutual benefit including wealth creation.

Since the wealth creation process of a nation is synonymous with that of its organizations, macro policies of governments of nation states must facilitate evolution and development of organizations that are focused, market driven, efficiency and change seeking, nimble-footed, and also capable of building and leveraging capabilities, all required to create wealth not only for their shareholders, but also for other stakeholders, including the government. For such value creation to take root within an organization, the external context must be right—market economy, healthy competition, transparent regulations, strong institutional frameworks in all public policy areas, clear intellectual and other property rights, freedom to access information and high ethical standards. If a nation is state is not able to put in place the required public policies in these areas and also no effort is made to simultaneously enhance managerial capabilities to create value, its wealth creation effort will always remain sub-optimal.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Smart People Add, Foolish People Take Away


The most important way we learn is by thoughtful observation. Lessons that teach us success fundamentals are available in every encounter with other people.

Consider this example. You visit a candy store and order a pound of unboxed candy. The person behind the counter puts a big scoop of candy on the scales, maybe 20 ounces, and then begins to take away your candy, piece by piece, until the weight is exactly 16 ounces.

How do you feel? Cheated. Subconsciously, you perceived the big 20-ounce pile of candy as your candy. Now, as the person behind the counter takes some of it away, you feel your candy is being stolen.

Intelligent people behind the counter use the add-to approach. They put a relatively small amount of candy on the scales, maybe 10 or 12 ounces. Then, they add a few pieces until the scale shows 16 ounces. Subconsciously, this makes you feel good because you perceive you are getting extra candy.

Sixteen ounces are still 16 ounces. But the way a pound is counted makes a mighty big difference. To be sure, computer personnel must be careful in weighing merchandise. The point is that never make the customer feel cheated.

Successful business search for creative ways to use the generous add-on tactic to increase sales. The magazine subscription that includes a free pocket calculator, a remote-control device that comes free with the purchase of a television set, and the two-for-the-price-of-one sale by a drug chain are examples. People like you and buy from you when you give more than they expect in exchange for their money.

Evidence that generosity, the add-on approach, works wonders is overwhelming. Nevertheless there are still many businesses that believe success is spelled CHEAT. Store that advertise non-existent appliances at a ridiculously low price and then try to browbeat and intimidate the customer into buying a much higher priced product are common examples. Observe such scoundrels only to learn how to succeed.

You can use the “add-to” principle in every facet of life:

  • Give unexpected, extra service to your employer and you become a candidate for more pay, for more fringe benefits, and for promotion.
  • Put something extra into your assignment at school and get a better grade.
  • Give more time to your kids and get more love and cooperation in return.
  • Show respect to the parking lot attendent and your car gets better treatment.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Process Owner


The process owner, who is responsible for reengineering a specific process, should be a senior-level manager, usually with line responsibility, who cares prestige, credibility, and clout within the company. If the leader’s job is to make reengineering happen in the large, then the process owner’s job is to make it happen in the small, at the individual process level. It is the process owner’s reputation, bonus, and career that are on the line when his or her process is undergoing reengineering.

 Most companies lack process owners, because in traditional organizations people do not tend to think in process terms. Responsibility for processes is fragmented across organizational boundaries. That’s why identifying the company’s major processes is a crucial early step in reengineering.

 After identifying the processes, the leader designates the owners who will guide those processes through reengineering. Process owners are usually individuals who manage one of the functions involved in the process that will undergo reengineering. To do their reengineering jobs, they have to have the respect of their peers and a stomach for reengineering—they must be people who are comfortable with change, tolerant of ambiguity, and serence in adversity.

 An owner’s job is not to do reengineering but to see that it gets done. The owner must assemble a reengineering team and do whatever is required to enable the team to do its job. He or she obtains the resources that the team requires, runs interference with the bureaucracy, and works to gain the cooperation of other managers whose functional groups are involved in the process.

 Process owners also motivate, inspire, and advise their teams. They act as the team’s critic, spokesman, monitor, and liaison. When reengineering team members start to produce ideas that make coworkers in the organization unhappy, process owners shield them from the arrows that others will shoot their way. Process owners take the heat so that their teams can concentrate on making reengineering happen.

 The process owner’s job will not end when the reengineering project is completed. In a process-oriented company, process, not function or geography, will form the basis of organizational structure, so every process will continue to need an owner to attend to its performance.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Call People by Name


President Reagan often is referred to as the greatest communicator ever to serve as President. And for good reasons. He used to speak slowly in a well-modulated voice, looks directly in the person or people he is speaking to, remains calm under pressure and uses simple, easy-to-understand words. Mr Reagan employs many subtle but persuasive techniques in dealing with public. Very importantly, at news conferences which are typically a very difficult presidential task, Mr. Reagan would address reporters by name when accepting a question rather than just indicating with a hand motion which reporter might speak nest. It may seem like a small point, but his method was conducive to help create good relations with the press. Why? Because people cooperate better when they are recognized by name. being addressed by name I a sincere and deeply appreciated compliment. It tells a person, “You are important to me.”

 Lyndon Johnson, the Great “Persuader,” practiced remembering names, and Lyndon Johnson was number one “persuader president” of modern times. He was enormously effective in bringing opposing factions together to get legislation passed.

 Why was President Johnson so effective as a human relations engineer? He worked at it! Long before he succeeded Mr. Kennedy as President, he developed and practiced his own ten rules to make himself more effective in working with people.

 President Johnson’s system for how-to-win-influence-over-people appears below:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may include that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old shoe, old hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egoistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal every misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express synpathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

 Every person has a name and as Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s name is the sweetest word in our language. People feel bigger and better when called by name because it is their most valuable possession. It gives them a sense of individuality – a feeling of being unique.

Hereare five guidelines for calling people by their names to win their cooperation:

  1. Pronounce the other person’s name correctly.
  2. In conversation, use the other person’s name often.
  3. Use nicknames only when you know they are preferred by the person.
  4. Use a person’s last name until familiarity is established.
  5. Spell the other person’s name correctly.

 “Do you know who I am?” The law of self-interest—the tremendous craving for self-identity—comes through in many little ways.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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